Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, April 12, 1998, pg. 6
This coming Sunday April 19 and Monday April 20, New Hope Worship Center will be celebrating its 10th anniversary with special services and events. They certainly have come a long ways since the days of its beginnings when they were meeting at the old 7-11 Store, the Days Inn and at Starr Commonwealth. Their prime location with 20 acres of land on 28 Mile/Duck Lake Road just north of I-94 has certainly been an asset to the church. We wish them continued success as New Hope lives up to its name and ministers to the needs of people in our surrounding area. If youíre not attending church anywhere, check it out and find out for yourself.
While researching the history of the land upon which New Hope sits, I came across some interesting information. Does anyone know what an "apiarist" is? Thatís BEE KEEPER in laymanís terms. The back 10 acre parcel of land at New Hope once contained one of the largest apiaries in Calhoun County!
George Encke (1851-1936) was Albionís leading apiriarst at the turn of the century. A native of Hope, New Jersey, his father Edmund operated a mill there. George moved to Michigan from Hope with his parents in 1865, and his father purchased a farm two miles south of Albion.
George married Della Bidwell (1850-1979), the daughter of Wellington Bidwell, a local Albion merchant after whom Bidwell Street is named. He worked at Wellingtonís store and learned the grocery trade. George then operated his own grocery store in Albion for several years during the 1890s.
He lived at 401 Irwin Avenue at Adams Street in an elegant Victorian home loaded with embellishments that still remain on the house today. George then purchased a 31-acre farm at 28207 Territorial Road, now C Drive North where he grew strawberries, fruits, melons and grapes. That house is still standing today, and there is a large barn just behind it to the side.
Georgeís strip of property went northwards and it was there he operated his apiary in the back in what today is New Hopeís "prayer forest," containing trails, benches, etc. The 1-acre woods is filled with pear and walnut trees, and raspberry bushes. Cement foundations of old barns and sheds still remain there today. It is interesting to note that George was originally from Hope, and moved to what today is New Hope.
The 1904 "Biograhpical Review of Calhoun County" by Hobart & Mather states (page 275), "He [George Encke] also has a good apiary and has handled bees for 35 years. In fact he has come to be the leading apiarist in eastern Calhoun County and has given to the subject much study and consideration. His honey product last year (1903) will amount to more than 3,000 pounds, and as it is always of excellent quality he commands the highest market price."
The front part of the New Hope property was part of the large farm along 28 Mile Road which no doubt had dairy cattle, and so truly the church is located in the land of "milk and honey." As we say congratulations to New Hope Worship Center on its 10th anniversary, this week in our Historical Notebook we present a photograph of New Hopeís "prayer forest" park, once the site of George Enckeís apiary.
New Hope's "Prayer Forest" Park
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic